A Chinese pastor who was arrested for protesting against removal of crosses in Zhejiang province has been released from 'black jail', according to China Aid.
Pastor Huang Yizi had organized a prayer vigil against demolitions of crosses in China's eastern province, known for its high concentration of churches.
He had peacefully protested against the removal of crosses, but was put under criminal detention in September on charges of "endangering national security," and "stealing, spying on, buying or illegally providing state secrets for institutions and people outside the country."
The pastor was denied access to a lawyer, but was allowed to return home last week after about five months behind the bars.
Previously, Pastor Huang was detained in August 2014 for leading a public prayer vigil in July of the same year, and was charged for "gathering crowds to disturb social order."
He was protesting the removal of the cross outside Sjuitou Salvation Church, but police took to using iron batons to beat the crowd, and about 10 people were hospitalized. Onlookers had taken videos of the incident, showing police beating a group of churchgoers who were singing and praying, irrespective of their ages.
During that one year, the pastor was interrogated over 100 times, with each session lasting about 6 hours. In a letter published after his release, he said that he used his time at the prison as a Sabbatical where he got an opportunity to share his faith, and reach the prisoners with the gospel.
Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, told Christian Today that Pastor Huang had faced severe persecution and threats before his release.
"We are glad Pastor Huang is released home for Chinese New Year after being arbitrarily detained for five months in a black jail," he said.
"Both the previous one year criminal sentence and the past five months detention are absolutely part of political revenge against pastor Huang's public opposition against the barbaric forced demolition of crosses and his effort for organizing true Gospel mission independent of the government controlled religious body, the TSPM [Three Self Patriotic Movement].. I call upon the Chinese higher authorities to hold accountable those abusers of power (in its arbitrary nature of pastor Huang's detention) in Zhejiang and restore justice to pastor Huang."